Klahowya netters turn to teamwork

Klahowya libero Katie Kirkpatrick gets low for a bump in Thursday’s 3-0 loss to Port Angeles. - Photo by Aaron Managhan
Klahowya libero Katie Kirkpatrick gets low for a bump in Thursday’s 3-0 loss to Port Angeles.
— image credit: Photo by Aaron Managhan

Klahowya is hoping that new volleyball coach Lisa Griffith will bring with her the stability the program has lacked in recent years, as Griffith is the team’s third coach in four seasons.

In that span, the Eagles had shown signs of improvement, finishing 5-11 in 2005. But last year, the team fell to 1-15 in the Olympic League.

And while the team’s improvement this year isn’t easily measured in wins and losses, Griffith said it has been measured in a number of other ways.

“These ladies are doing a great job,” Griffith said. “We have lots of good teamwork.”

Griffith, who spent eight years coaching in Utah before serving as Klahowya’s seventh- and eighth-grade coach through 2000, is eager to help end that revolving door. But the main reason she returned was a simple passion for coaching.

“I don’t know,” Griffith said. “Once you have it in your blood, you’ve always got to have it.”

At 1-5 this season, Klahowya topped Kingston in a non-leage game for its first win under Griffith. With few varsity returners in seniors Jessica Wilson, Rachael Beierle and Lauren Fuller, the team has had to battle through a number of key losses.

Trisha Rarey, Rachel Stocks and Danya Mares all graduated and sisters Tricia and Tara Patton’s family moved into Central Kitsap’s boundaries, where they now suit up for the Cougars.

But that’s just the beginning.

“No it has not (been easy),” Griffith said. “We had a new person (Courtney Fowler) move in. We had one injured. We had one move out. But I think this group now is the core group.”

That core of Beierle, Wilson and Fuller have teamed up with players like libero Katie Kirkpatrick, Emily Pruiett, Megan Shultz, Samantha Ellis and Mari Cleven as the group tries to re-establish the Eagles on the volleyball court.

“We’re just working on teamwork,” Griffith said. “Because that’s a big thing.”

Griffith said the heart of the team is among the largest around, considering the rocky recent history of the volleyball program.

“It shows me that they’re willing to work and try,” she said. “It’s hard to come in as a coach and change the whole system. To have the kids get it, half the season is over with. But they’re doing great. I’m very proud of ’em.”

The team has been making improvements in the fundamentals of the game, and Griffith said those are the kinds of improvements she’s seen.

“We just take it one step at a time,” she said. “I just want to see getting better. And each game I see, it’s getting better.”

No one player has stepped up, but that’s encouraging for Griffith, as she said it’s the whole team that’s been making the strides.

“It is the whole team as a group,” she said. “It’s interesting. I have three seniors, one junior, one sophomore and four freshman. We have a lot of young kids.”

The Eagles will continue the process on Thursday when they host Bremerton at 6:15 p.m.

Klahowya fell to Port Angeles on Thursday, 3-0 (25-8, 25-8, 25-12) a school nearly three times its size.

The Eagles used their top strength, strong serving, to rally at various points in the match, led by Wilson’s two aces. She also had seven digs and two assists to share the team lead with Morgan Euzarraga.

Megan Schultz added five digs for the Eagles while Ellis led the team with two kills.

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